Five Insights with Refugees

A monthly conversation on Inclusion, Solution and Aspiration

Danya, 17, grew up in a small village of Bakhmut, Ukraine. When he moved to Bucharest, Romania with his family in November 2022 after Russia’s invasion of his country, he found living in a city overwhelming at first. But he started developing a habit of taking a photo of everything he saw on the street as he navigated the new city.

Here is a story of life from the eyes of a teenage refugee:

Danya Brilov in Bucharest, Romania in June 2023 © UNHCR/Ioana Moldovan

1. On early challenges

After moving to Bucharest, one of the challenges I faced was adjusting to public transportation as I was not used to taking the subway in a city. It was also very challenging with the language for sure. My lack of Romanian language skills at the time made it hard to communicate with new friends and people in public places, to express my thoughts and emotions. Most of all, with all the upheavals in my life, I started feeling so unsettled.

2. On daily motivation and inspiration

The fact that I now live with a sense of safety in one of the capital cities of a European country comforts me. I feel like I am surrounded by many different opportunities and open-minded people who are ready to help. The support from my family and my relatives as well as being able to speak with those people from the new friendships I forged have helped me not to give up and to keep going. I also pay attention to living in the moment. I am hopeful for my future and for the country where I come from.

3. On Inclusion

For me, inclusion means being able to participate in society regardless of your socioeconomic status. Considering my current circumstances, I have a better understanding of what inclusion means. I would like to be accepted positively in Romanian society. For example, as I am planning to attend university here, being able to join a study group at the university would be a great way to integrate. At the same time, not to be discouraged from maintaining my roots and interacting in my native language would be important to me, too.

4. On aspirations, hopes for the future

I am optimistic about my future. My priority is to continue with education in Bucharest. I believe education will enable me to have a better future with happiness, success and stability. I also plan to travel at any opportunity, because I am interested in discovering new places that offer different history and traditions. When it is possible, I would like to visit my ancestral home back in Ukraine, which I sometimes long for.

5. On opportunities

I am currently waiting to find out about the results of my university enrolment. I am interested in studying architecture and have applied for those type of courses. I also plan to continue with my Romanian language course and look for any other self-development classes and workshops. I try not to miss the opportunities that life gives me here in Romania. You can always find an alternative. The main thing is to have the desire and aspiration to go for your dream against all odds.

Edited by June Kim

Danya reads a book about architecture at a bookstore in Bucharest, Romania. © UNHCR/Ioana Moldovan

The story is also available in English here.